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March 22 weekend update: Western Canada and COVID-19

There are more than 1,375 cases across Canada as of Sunday. Without B.C.’s Sunday update, Alberta and B.C. still account for more than half of all Canadian cases.




Without a Sunday update from B.C., western Canada numbers are at 755.

B.C. reported 76 new cases on Saturday and 77 new cases Friday.


31 new cases were announced Saturday and 33 additional cases were identified by Sunday bringing the province’s total to 259.

18 people are currently hospitalized with the virus and seven are in intensive care units. The province has had one death.

The province would also like people to be vigilant and take extra care with their personal information.

“Cyber security incidents involving malware and fraudulent activities, including identity theft, are being reported across Alberta in the wake of COVID-19,” said a provincial press release.

“Anyone who receives a call asking for credit card information should hang up immediately and call the non-emergency line for local law enforcement. Albertans are encouraged to continue to exercise caution when clicking on links or providing personal information to people and organizations that request that information, unsolicited.”

A new contact centre will be opening up March 23. The Alberta Connects Contact Centre will be available for non-medical assistance seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

An emergency management line is also being set up to help people who would like to donate items that are not currently on the list of requisite items. The Alberta Emergency Management Agency Unsolicited Offers Program can be accessed here.

Additional information for Alberta residents can be found here.

British Columbia

B.C. announced 76 new cases on Saturday but did not provide an update by 5:00 pm Sunday (MT).

Distillers in the province will be temporarily refocusing their production on hand sanitizer.

New rules are allowing liquor delivery, with the purchase of a meal, from area restaurants in Victoria.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that the time for asking nicely is nearing an end. Stewart said he will be asking council to allow an increase in penalties for those who flaunt public health recommendations.

Additional information for B.C. residents can be found here.


The province announced two new cases on Saturday and one new case Sunday.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said almost all of the cases currently in the province were related to travel. One case was still being investigated.

“Now is not the time for business as usual. Now is the time to implement these social distancing strategies. Now is the time that we can work together to limit the impact of this virus in Manitoba,” Roussin said.

Residents are encouraged to use the online screening tool which should be available without delay or call Health Links where the average wait time was around 47 minutes.

Emergent situations should still call 911.

Roussin advised Manitobans to stay home if they can, practice social distancing and reschedule travel outside of the province.

One case in the province was related to travel to B.C..

Health officials also reminded residents that a negative test did not mean they should return to the community and that they should continue to self-isolate for a full 14-day period as that has been determined to be the incubation for the virus.

Self-isolation can also help curb asymptomatic spread, Roussin said.

Additional information for Manitoba residents can be found here.


On Saturday the province announced 18 new cases and an additional eight cases on Sunday bringing the province’s total to 52.

21 cases are in Saskatoon, 19 in Regina, five in southern Saskatchewan (excluding Regina) and three in northern Saskatchewan.

Health officials are asking residents to practice social distancing and monitor their own health for signs of illness. The province also asks that people adhere to other public safety measures the province and municipalities have undertaken to ensure the safety of all residents.

Additional information for Saskatchewan residents can be found here.

Provincial tallies:

  • British Columbia: 424 confirmed cases, including 5 recovered and 10 deaths*
  • Ontario: 377 cases, including 5 recovered and 3 deaths
  • Alberta: 259 confirmed cases including one death
  • Quebec: 202 confirmed cases, including one recovered and 5 deaths
  • Saskatchewan: 52 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • New Brunswick: 11 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Manitoba: 20 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Nova Scotia: 21 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Prince Edward Island: 2 cases
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 6 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Northwest Territories: 1 case

*British Columbia’s numbers are current as of Saturday, March 21.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
Twitter @Mitchell_AB


Alberta brewery shocks Maori people by naming beer after their pubic hair

New Zealand TV presenter Te Hamua Nikora, a member of the Maori community, blasted the brewery on his FaceBook page.




An Alberta brewery has unwittingly offended the Maori people of New Zealand by naming one of its beers after their pubic hair.

The Hell’s Basement brewery in Medicine Hat used the Maori word “huruhuru” to name its “New Zealand hopped pale ale”.

Unfortunately, in the Maori language “huruhuru” means pubic hair.

New Zealand TV presenter Te Hamua Nikora, a member of the Maori community, blasted the brewery on his FaceBook page.

“Some people call it appreciation, I call it appropriation,” he wrote.

Nikora said he contacted the brewery to inform them of their blunder.

“Don’t call beer pubic hair unless you make it with pubic hair,” he said.

Brewery co-founder Mike Patriquin said in statement to the New Zealand news site RNZ he thought “huruhuru” meant “feather” and he didn’t realise it was a reference to pubic hair.

“We did not realise the potential to offend through our artistic interpretation, and given the response we will attempt to do better in the future,” he said.

“To those who feel disrespected we apologise. We also do not think pubic hair is shameful, though we admit it may not go well with beer.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard



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Gov.-Gen. Pyette spending hundreds of thousands of dollars so she doesn’t have to see people

But Pyette’s spokeswoman says Canadians don’t have to right to ask about her living arrangements.




There’s more evidence out of Ottawa of Gov.-Gen. Julie Pyette acting like a drama queen – including spending $141,000 to plan for a private staircase that was never built.

But Pyette’s spokeswoman says Canadians don’t have to right to ask about her living arrangements.

It was part of hundreds of thousands of dollars Pyette demanded in privacy upgrades before she would move into Rideau Hall – but she still hasn’t moved into her official residence almost three years into her five-year mandate. 

More than $117,500 was also spent on a gate and series of doors to keep people away from Payette’s office, according to the National Capital Commission (NCC), which manages the official vice-regal residence.

While a large chunk of the grounds of Rideau Hall are open to the public, Payette “wanted to come and go without anyone seeing her,” one source with knowledge of the project told the CBC.

Multiple sources told CBC, Payette doesn’t like maintenance workers in her line of sight and even RCMP protection officers aren’t allowed to stand directly outside her office door and must hide in a room down the hallway.

Early in Payette’s mandate, CBC reported she wanted a door for her cats to be able to exit the living quarters on the second floor and go outside. The idea then changed into a private exit for Payette.

CBC said a team of government staff and outside companies spent months working on the project and going through a rigorous approval process to make the addition to the heritage building, according to sources. But the staircase was never built. 

But Payette’s press secretary, Ashlee Smith, suggested it’s not in the public’s interest for the media to ask about Payette’s living arrangements.

“To date, outstanding issues regarding universal accessibility and privacy in the space provided in Rideau Hall for the Governor General have not yet been addressed,” said Smith in a statement to CBC. 

“In this day and age, the interest in this seems contrary to respecting the life and privacy of a person.”

During the pandemic, Payette has spent time working at her own cottage in Quebec which means RCMP have to travel to the area near Mirabel and stay in hotels, the CBC reported.

Just last month there were claims the Queen’s representative in Canada had seen a mass exodus of staff while reducing others to tears after dressing-downs.

“Four members of Payette’s communications team have departed during the pandemic period alone. A fifth person is leaving this week and another two have taken leaves of absence. It’s just the latest wave of staff to quietly transfer out of the small office in response to mistreatment during Payette’s mandate”, multiple sources told the CBC.

“This has gone from being one of the most collegial and enjoyable work environments for many of the staff to being a house of horrors – it’s bullying and harassment at its worst,” one source told CBC.

CBC said they had spoken to dozens of sources to come up with the portrait of a tyrant Pyette.

The sources told CBC Payette has yelled at, belittled and publicly humiliated employees. They accused her of throwing tantrums in the office and, on one occasion, tossing an employee’s work aside and calling it “sh&%.”

CBC reported on one day along multiple people were seen leaving Pyette’s office in tears.

Multiple sources told CBC Payette routinely complained of being tired, underfed and overworked.

But Rideau Hall said Payette and “the management of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General ‘strongly believe’ in the importance of a healthy workplace.”

“We deeply regret this reporting, which is in stark contrast to the reality of working at the OSGG, and obscures the important work done by our dedicated staff in honouring, representing, and showcasing Canadians,” said Ashlee Smith, press secretary to the Governor General, in a statement to CBC.

Payette, a former astronaut, was appointed Governor General on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in October 2017. Her term runs until 2022.

At the beginning of her mandate, CBC reported, Payette put staff on the spot by quizzing them about outer space — asking them to name all the planets in the solar system, for example, or to state the distance between the sun and the moon.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard



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WATCH: Alberta to explore nuclear option

Kenney said Alberta will enter into talks with Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to support the development of versatile and scalable small modular reactors.




Alberta is joining three other province to try and launch small scale nuclear power plants, says Premier Jason Kenney.

Kenney said Friday Alberta will enter into a memorandum of understanding with Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to support the development of versatile and scalable small modular reactors (SMRs).

In a release, the government said SMRs are smaller than traditional nuclear reactors and scalable to suit local needs, with lower upfront capital costs and enhanced safety features. This new and versatile technology could supply non-emitting, low-cost energy for on-grid and off-grid communities in Alberta, including remote and rural areas of the province, as well as industries with a significant need for steam, such as Alberta’s oil sands.

“Our government is exploring all opportunities that could help diversify our economy and create jobs for Albertans,” said Kenney.

Government of Alberta video

“We are building on our track record of responsible and innovative energy production by exploring the potential for small modular reactors, which have the potential to generate reliable and affordable energy, while also strengthening our traditional resource sectors and reducing emissions.

“We are excited to collaborate with our provincial partners to stay ahead of the game in the development of this promising technology.”

The government said SMRs would be small enough to be built in a factory and shipped by truck, rail or ship.

A typical SMR would generate between two and 300 megawatts of electricity, which could provide power for a village or small city. In comparison, a conventional nuclear reactor can generate 600 to 1,000 megawatts, which can provide power for a large city.

SMRs could operate independently or be linked to multiple units, depending on the required amount of power.

“Alberta’s rich uranium deposits, respected innovation and research sector, and technically skilled and educated workforce could make us an attractive destination to develop and deploy SMRs,” said Energy Minister Sonya Savage in a statement.

“By signing on to this agreement, our government is taking another step to attract investment and job creators to our province by ensuring we have the appropriate regulatory framework in place should private industry decide to pursue this emerging technology.”

In December 2019, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to support the development and deployment of SMRs.

Canada is the second largest uranium producer in the world, with about 15 per cent of total world production.

The Athabasca Basin, which straddles the northern Alberta-Saskatchewan border, contains some of the greatest uranium resources in the world.


Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard



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